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Steel City: Any opinions?

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Forum topic by Ryan Shervill posted 2333 days ago 1759 views 0 times favorited 37 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Ryan Shervill

278 posts in 2411 days


2333 days ago

Hello LJ’s, I’m hoping you may be able to help me out a little. I am considering a swap-out of the stationary tools in my shop and selecting another brand. Without going into too much detail, I need a brand that maintains a consistant level of quality.

Anyway, I am considering the SC brand, and curious to know your experiences. I looked over their tools at the CHW show, and they seem to meet my criteria (recognizable, unique, priced in the mid portion of the market, large variety of models and price-points), but I’m looking for real-world opinions. Essentially, would YOU recomend them to a friend or family member? Are you happy with the performance, fit/finish, support?

Some/all of the tools I’ll specifically be looking at replacing are :
Cabinet Saw
Band Saw
Thickness sander
8” jointer
15” planer
Dust collector
Mortiser

I appreciate any feedback you can provide.

Cheers,

Ryan Shervill

-- Want to see me completely transform a house? Look here: http://forum.canadianwoodworking.com/showthread.php?41055


37 replies so far

View Woodchuck1957's profile

Woodchuck1957

944 posts in 2362 days


#1 posted 2333 days ago

I don’t own any of their tools, but from what I’ve seen, the SC 17” drill press is probably the hottest 17” drill press out now. The rest I haven’t heard much about from anyone.

View GaryK's profile

GaryK

10262 posts in 2586 days


#2 posted 2333 days ago

Hello Ryan – I should be getting that bandsaw today and I will be doing a review after I have used it for a
while. It does have a lot of nice features left off of most saws. Tension release lever, wheels, light and
ball bearing guides.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View teenagewoodworker's profile

teenagewoodworker

2727 posts in 2366 days


#3 posted 2333 days ago

well i don’t have any of their tools but I’ve heard good things. I’ve heard a lot that it basically has the quality of the older Delta tools. but other than that i don’t know much.

View DaytonB's profile

DaytonB

154 posts in 2464 days


#4 posted 2333 days ago

Steal City was, up and till recently, located in my town (Murfreesboro TN) so I got to know the Box’s, father and Son owners, and they seem like really good people. All their tools seem well built as well as built to last
I’ve got their 10” 3hp full cabinet saw and have been happy with it. It could use a little more fine tuning but that is on me. I’ve had it for 6 or 8 months and so far it has done a good job. I really enjoy having the 52” fence. It’s a well built Bessemer clone. That being said I will be buying a SawStop as soon as I can scrounge up the money; it is a phenomenal saw along with the unbelievable safety break.
. I have a Grizzly 8” jointer that I’m very happy with. It is the best bang-for-your-buck jointer on the market but the Steel City 8” is defiantly a better over all tool

Steve Box (owner) worked for Delta (and Powermatic I think) for years. he know what it takes to make good tools.

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Woodchuck1957

944 posts in 2362 days


#5 posted 2332 days ago

Personally I think the SawStop is way more than most hobbyist woodworkers actually have to have. The same goes for cabinet saws. Sometimes I think alot of people get hung up on the hey look what tool I have. I’m more impressed with what people can do, rather than what expensive tools they have. Not everyone has the luxury of haveing a shop that looks like a commercial cabinet shop. Especially nowdays when imported furniture and cabinets are so cheap that you can’t possibly compete. Until things get better, if they ever do, which I highly doubt at this point, I’ll just keep my older made in the USA Delta Contractors table saw, it works just fine.

View Ryan Shervill's profile

Ryan Shervill

278 posts in 2411 days


#6 posted 2332 days ago

Thanks for the feedback guys, keep it coming :)

Woodchuck, I both agree and disagree with your statement above. The fact is that for some it is not about “look what tool I have”, but more of a “need” thing. Now, being as WW’ing isn’t my “hobby”, I realize I may not strictly qualify as one of the people you mentioned above, but: I have a friend who is a “hobbiest”. However, his hobby involves ripping 12/4 white oak and dealing with some heavy exotics. In his case, he needs every one of those three horses the cabinet saw gives him, and he could probably use 5 :) Also the wieght is a big factor for some of us as well. We need a saw that won’t shift or tip when dealing with big/heavy/long stock.

Do I think that everyone needs a cabinet saw? Nope. In fact, that cherry cabinet I built at the Toronto show this past weekend that Ms. Debbie posted was done on a portable jobsite saw (Thats what they provided….difficult, but not impossible to do)....but some do need the advantages offered by a big saw.

Just my .02, and worth exactly the price paid for it :)

-- Want to see me completely transform a house? Look here: http://forum.canadianwoodworking.com/showthread.php?41055

View motthunter's profile

motthunter

2141 posts in 2397 days


#7 posted 2332 days ago

My impression without owning any is that their tools work well and are designed well.

I am not convinces that they are the best for the money in each of these categories. I think that rather than thinking about buying everything from the same company you should make your decision machine by machine. For example, I think Steel City makes the best mortise machine out there as well as a great drill press. Spending this much money requires great thought, research, and of course good luck.

-- making sawdust....

View Woodchuck1957's profile

Woodchuck1957

944 posts in 2362 days


#8 posted 2332 days ago

Ryan, I’ve never in 13 years came even close to tiping my Contractors table saw, if I had I was clearly doing something horribly wrong. As far as power goes, if you have the correct amount of power that the motor asks for going to the saw it will cut just about anything with a good blade. Thats where most people make the mistake with a Contractors saw, they have it pluged into a 110 outlet that is on a circuit that supplies other outlets and or lights and are starveing the motor for power and then think they need a bigger saw because someone says they do. In some cases yes, some people need a cabinet saw if they are running it 8 hours a day or more, but I’d say in most cases in a hobby shop they don’t, and it’s more of a bragging thing just to keep up with the next guy, and the tool manufacturers feed on it. I wouldn’t be a bit suprised if some of the posts aren’t from some of them like a wolf in sheeps clothing trying to keep the tool market alive and money in their pockets. With the money I’ve saved by not buying a cabinet saw that I don’t need, I was able to set my shop up for dust collection and air filtration, which is alot more important to me than tool braging rights.

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Greg3G

815 posts in 2684 days


#9 posted 2332 days ago

Ryan, I go by the principle that I buy the best tool on the market at the time I need it for the amount I am willing to pay. I am in the market for a new table saw and jointer. I will not probably look too closely at the Saw Stop because its inital investment is more than I am willng to pay. There are good tools, that are highly rated that fit more in line with what I want to spend. I will spend more money for tools that I feel are worth the higher price. For example, I purchaced the General Hollow chisel morticer not too long ago. It was probably twice the cost of the Delta, Jet and Steel City machines but I feel it was worth the difference in price (it was the highest rated machine at the time and was twice the weight.) Look at the quality and ratings of the machine before the brand name.

I do own a Steel City 1.5 hp dust collector. I do like it. It does its job very well and would buy it again. I do wish the power switch was higher but that can be solved with a remote switch.

-- Greg - Charles Town, WV

View Ryan Shervill's profile

Ryan Shervill

278 posts in 2411 days


#10 posted 2332 days ago

Woodchuck, I do see where you are coming from….but trust me. There are things a contractor saw just cannot do. When I first turned pro, I was using a contractor model, and it served me well as long as I didn’t “push it”....and due to my getting fed up and selling my cabinet saw, I am currently working on a contractor saw once again (yes, it’s wired to 220, but contrary to popular belief, a saw wired to 220 does not make more power than a 110, it is just miore efficient (1/2 the amps) A saw cannot draw “less” power than it needs because something else is plugged in…electricity doesn’t work that way. If there is too much draw on a circuit, the breaker will blow. If a 1 1/2 HP saw draws 15 amps, it will draw 15 amps regardless of what else is plugged in…but it will trip the breaker if something else is plugged in) It will not do things a larger more powerful cabinet saw will do however. Sure, you can cheat a little by using thin-kerf blades and such, but in the real world, compromise can cost you money and time. A thin kerf blade will not cut as smooth as a full kerf, and when you get into spinning large dado or molder heads, the need for extra power quickly becomes apparent. As for the weight issue, if my friend sat one of those 3X12X12 monsters he works with on the wing of a contractor saw, it would tip….it probably weighs as much as the saw :)

Mott: I agreee with what you are saying, but I kind of have to stick with one brand for stationary (TBD :) ), one brand for hand and small power ( now Bosch), one for hand tools (Veritas)....... If no one ever saw my shop but me, I’d probably have 15 different brands in there, but it’s a marketing thing.

-- Want to see me completely transform a house? Look here: http://forum.canadianwoodworking.com/showthread.php?41055

View CutNRun's profile

CutNRun

122 posts in 2444 days


#11 posted 2332 days ago

Ryan, I’m just curious – what tools do you have currently and why are you looking to replace them? What issues have you experienced with your current tools?

For what it’s worth, I purchased a Jet left tilt cabinet saw last fall. Did I truly NEED 3HP and the heft of a cabinet saw? Perhaps not. Have I enjoyed it -ABSOLUTELY. Have I regretted the purchase – not for a minute. I did get a great price at a Jet outlet center. Supposedly scratch and dent, but my saw had never been run or hooked up. The box had a forklift dent in it, but not a mark on the saw.

-- CutNRun - So much wood, so many trails, so little time

View Woodchuck1957's profile

Woodchuck1957

944 posts in 2362 days


#12 posted 2332 days ago

Ya, I know, I’m just a loser hobbyist thats been doing it for almost 30 years and don’t have any experience giveing demonstrations at woodworking shows. I clearly don’t know what I’m talking about. Excuse me for takeing up one of the chairs in your audience. Obviously I’m not worthy. One last note, if your as good as you think you are, why are you asking which brand of tools to buy ? ( Not that you would listen ) In all your infinate wisdom you should know. Give me a freakin break.

View Rich_S's profile

Rich_S

53 posts in 2463 days


#13 posted 2332 days ago

Unless you are in desperate need to change out something right away for some reason, I would start watching cabinet/commercial shop auctions and specialized classifieds and pick up those types of machines as they become available. That is basically the way I have outfitted/upgraded my shop over the last several years and even though I am a hobbiest I have ended up with a shop that is better than most all of the small and mid-size cabinet shops in our area…but that wasn’t the goal I had in mind when I was buying machinery. Instead I was looking at price, features, and capacity for the work I do now and for future work/projects, and the price to value was much better in the used larger machinery. Machinery is always for sale and unfortunately cabinet shops, furniture factories and pattern shops go out of business all the time. Granted, it takes some patience and the investment of some time to read the auction bills and various classifieds but in the long run it pays off. I don’t understand the marketing issue as it relates to wanting only one line of equipment in your shop unless you are seeking a sponsorship or are trying to sell that line of tools on the side. Actually as a Canadian shouldn’t you be outfitting your shop with General anyway?

-- Rich, Madison WI

View Ryan Shervill's profile

Ryan Shervill

278 posts in 2411 days


#14 posted 2332 days ago

Ya, I know, I’m just a loser hobbyist thats been doing it for almost 30 years and don’t have any experience giveing demonstrations at woodworking shows. I clearly don’t know what I’m talking about. Excuse me for takeing up one of the chairs in your audience. Obviously I’m not worthy. One last note, if your as good as you think you are, why are you asking which brand of tools to buy ? ( Not that you would listen ) In all your infinate wisdom you should know. Give me a freakin break.

Ouch! :(
Woodchuck, I’m sincerely sorry if I’ve offended you in some way, that wasn’t my intent. I also said that I agree with you and could see your point-of-view that not everyone needed a cabinet saw….. I’m sorry you can’t conversely see mine, that some do.

As far as my motivation for asking which brand, I wasn’t in fact asking “which brand”, I was simply asking for opinions on one particular brand: Steel City. The reason I asked specifically about SC is because they are relatively new to the market, and therefore there is not alot of info out there. I was hoping to get some inside info from those that have bought that brand…I value the input from my fellow LJ’s, and believe me, I would listen. I don’t know where you got the impression that I think I “know it all”, far,,,FAR from it….I’m learning everyday. I just happen to know a thing or two about electrical loads and draws. I’m sorry if my sharing that knowledge and clarifying a misconception was insulting to you somehow.

Now that I’ve stated my reason for starting this thread, I noticed that your comments have absolutely nothing to do with the topic at hand (Steel City), and can’t help but wonder why you posted when your only obvious message was that hobbiests who buy cabinet saws only do it to “show off ”, and that a contractor saw is “good enough for the work you’ve done for 30 years, so it’s good enough for annyone, and any purpose”...is this your only point?

I didn’t start the thread expecting a debate on whether a certain type of saw is required, so forgive me if I don’t enter further into that discussion within this thread. However, I would definitely be interested in discussing it further in another thread on that topic if you’d like to start one :)

Now, back on topic: Do you have some experience pertaining to Steel City that you could share? If you do I would sincerely appreciate hearing it.

Ryan.

-- Want to see me completely transform a house? Look here: http://forum.canadianwoodworking.com/showthread.php?41055

View Lakey's profile

Lakey

97 posts in 2371 days


#15 posted 2332 days ago

I’ve been intrigued by SteeL City’s use of granite in place of cast iron for the saw tables, and I was delighted to see quality tools being made in the USA again. However, I’m probably not going to buy the brand for a completely unrelated reason – their marketing. It may seem trivial, but I thought that their “By Tool Guys, For Tool Guys” slogan was just plain stupid. So I called the company and talked to thier marketing director, who was about as bright as a 60 watt bulb. Normally that kind of stuff doesn’t bother me, but when he said that women were “only 15%” of the market, I wondered a bit – I mean 15% is a happy little chunk of demographic, don’t you think? PLEASE NOTE, though – they DID change their tag line, which gives them big points in my book. But now that Woodchuck sings the praises of their drill press, I might have to think again. A floor model drill press is my next big purchase. (FYI – I’ve been very, very happy with the General cabinet saw I bought second hand. It is one sweet, accurate machine. I could never get by with a contractors saw.)

Sorry for the little rant there.

-- "No Board Left Behind"

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